Sydney Headache & Migraine Centre

Can physiotherapy help migraines and headaches?

Migraines and headaches are debilitating conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. While medications and lifestyle changes are commonly recommended, many are unaware that physiotherapy can be a highly effective treatment option. This article delves into how physiotherapy, including specialized techniques such as the Watson Headache Approach, can provide significant relief for those suffering from migraines and headaches.

Understanding Migraines and Headaches

Migraines and headaches can arise from various causes, including tension, stress, poor posture, and neck issues. Migraines often present with throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea, while headaches can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.


How Physiotherapy Can Help?

Headache Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy for headaches involves a comprehensive assessment to identify the underlying causes of pain. A physiotherapist will examine posture, neck mobility, muscle tension, and other factors that might contribute to headaches. Treatment plans are then tailored to address these specific issues.

Cervicogenic Headache Physiotherapy

Cervicogenic headaches originate from problems in the cervical spine (neck region). These headaches are often mistaken for migraines but can be effectively treated with physiotherapy. Techniques used include:

  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques to mobilize joints and soft tissues.
  • Exercise Therapy: Strengthening and stretching exercises to improve posture and neck stability.
  • Postural Education: Teaching proper posture to reduce strain on the neck.

Physiotherapy for Migraine Headache

While migraines have a more complex origin, physiotherapy can still play a crucial role. Techniques include:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Methods such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and muscle tension.
  • Trigger Point Therapy: Identifying and treating trigger points that may refer pain to the head.
  • Lifestyle Advice: Recommendations on ergonomics, exercise, and sleep habits to reduce migraine frequency and severity.


    The Watson Headache Approach

    The Watson Headache® Approach is a specialized physiotherapy technique developed by Dr. Dean Watson. This approach focuses on the role of the upper cervical spine in headache and migraine conditions. Key aspects include:

    • Precise Assessment: Detailed examination of the upper cervical spine to identify dysfunctional segments.
    • Manual Therapy: Specific techniques to mobilize the upper cervical spine and reduce headache symptoms.
    • Patient Education: Empowering patients with knowledge about their condition and how to manage it.

    Research has shown that the Watson Headache® Approach can significantly reduce headache and migraine frequency and intensity. This method is particularly effective for those who have not found relief through other treatments.

    Benefits of Physiotherapy for Headaches and Migraines

    1. Non-Invasive: Physiotherapy is a non-invasive treatment option with minimal side effects.
    2. Personalized Treatment: Tailored to the individual’s specific needs and conditions.
    3. Holistic Approach: Addresses the root causes of headaches and migraines, not just the symptoms.
    4. Improved Quality of Life: Reduces pain and frequency of headaches, leading to a better quality of life.


    Physiotherapy offers a promising avenue for those seeking relief from migraines and headaches. Consulting a physiotherapist who focuses solely on headache and migraine treatment will provide you with expert care and fast results. By addressing underlying causes such as neck dysfunction and poor posture, physiotherapy can provide lasting relief. Techniques like the Watson Headache® Approach further enhance the effectiveness of treatment, especially for cervicogenic headaches. If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines, consider consulting a physiotherapist to explore how headache physiotherapy can benefit you.

    By integrating physiotherapy into your headache and migraine management plan, you can take a proactive step towards a pain-free life.

    Book A Migraine/Headache Assessment

    Book online or give us a call on 1300MyHeadache (1300 694 323) to organise an assessment with Sydney Headache & Migraine Centre and learn more about what causes your migraines and how we can help treat them.

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